There’s a light at the end of the COVID tunnel in the form of a vaccine, but we still have months of challenge ahead of us, with the holiday season smack in the middle of this homestretch. What does that mean for us with regard to our work or simply our day-to-day lives?
On the whole, most of us have adapted and maybe even found some things we’d like to keep from this alternate timeline. See my reflections on that here: Thanksgiving Reflections. But let’s be honest, this prolonged pandemic has taken a toll on us, physically, mentally and emotionally.
The shorter days of the winter season already have an impact on my productivity. Add the strain of COVID and I’m finding I just don’t have as much stamina right now as I’d like. But of course, the holiday season usually comes with a longer to-do list, not a shorter one, so how do we manage that? Here are some suggestions.
Lower your expectations during the holiday season.
Expectations are tricky. They imply that there is a satisfactory outcome or an unsatisfactory one. When my kids were little, the amount of chaos around the house was pretty significant. For both my husband and me, two obsessive compulsive neat freaks, this was a challenge. But we weren’t the only people living in the house, and to expect four little ones to maintain an order that met our expectations was completely unreasonable. A friend suggested we simply lower those expectations. When we did, our lives became a lot less stressful. Can we give ourselves permission to lower our expectations this season?
Self-care matters now more than ever.
When I’m already off-kilter, my tendency is to let things go that I probably shouldn’t in the self-care department. I don’t feel like working out when it’s still dark in the morning. I want hot chocolate and comfort food pretty much all the time. Sweat pants and a baseball hat seems like a fine wardrobe choice. Instead of fighting these tendencies, I try to incorporate them in a healthy, balanced way. Here are a few specific things I try to do:
- Get more sleep. I need it and the longer nights promote it. I pretend I’m hibernating.
- Make my work space more pleasant. Candles and twinkle lights. Seriously. They make the darkness, which lasts so much longer now, feel cozy.
- More yoga, less gym. I don’t stress myself about getting in a hard core workout a certain number of times per week in the winter. Rather, I commit to more hot yoga. It’s great exercise, it’s good for tight winter muscles, and it’s hot. Did I mention it’s hot? Even if the studio I attend has to close down, I have a place in my house ready to go, complete with space heaters and candles.
- Outdoor time. It takes more effort, layers, and proper footwear, but when I can take a hike in the woods, or even take a walk around the neighborhood, I’m in a better mood afterwards.
Remember, this too shall pass.
In the course of our lives, we’ve all had to face difficult things, from illnesses to heartbreak. COVID is no different. When we emerge on the other side of an emotional or physical trauma, we are gifted with the knowledge that we have come through it. Life moves forward. Change happens. We will not be in this space forever.